On the road through Europe's greenest metropolis
Renowned magazine "The Economist" has named Vienna the world's most liveable city twice in a row. Yet the city on the Danube has much more to offer than magnificent buildings and a rich cultural scene. It is on its way to becoming a green showcase city and wants to promote environmentally friendly mobility. A foray with Viennese enjoying their city on two wheels.
Meeting point Prater. The amusement park with its amusement rides and the giant wheel that can be seen from afar is still a landmark in Vienna today. It's the perfect starting point for a bike ride with Oliver Oth, hobby photographer and passionate eBiker. He takes us on an eBike ride in his city.
Year after year, Vienna occupies top positions in the popularity scale of travellers and residents. The business magazine "The Economist" named the metropolis the world's most livable city twice in a row. This is not only due to its special charm, the baroque architecture and the stylish coffee houses. No other major city in Europe has more green space for every one of its 1.9 million inhabitants. Forests, vineyards, gardens and parks make up almost 50 percent of the city's territory.
But how much fun is it to explore this city by bike? Hardly anyone can judge this better than the people who cycle there every day, on their way from A to B, to the office, to kindergarten – or in search of the new sides of the city. Like Oliver Oth. The 47-year-old is a flaneur on two wheels, who roams Vienna in his spare time with his eBike and alert eyes, always on the lookout for new photo opportunities.
We leave the amusement park behind us and head towards "Viertel Zwei", one of the new residential and office districts. In the direct vicinity of the racetrack, modern glass and concrete facades are clustered, broken up by fountains, moats and parking spaces. Contrasts, as Oliver Oth calls them. His attention is focused on architecture and nature, and he finds enough of both in this city. "With my eBike, I can travel great distances in a day, discovering more remote places for my photos."
The trained hotelier inspires many followers on Instagram with his work. They appreciate his pictures, which fascinate with unusual perspectives or light reflections. Oth also finds exciting photos in Donau-City, the new district on the other side of the river. The cycle path there, from the 2nd district over the Reichsbrücke Bridge, with its wide lanes running in opposite directions, offers enough space to enjoy the view. In the distance rises a glittering black tower called DC Tower 1, Vienna's modern landmark, soaring 250 metres into the sky.
Oth pointed his smartphone at the second tower next to it, which is half finished. "If you haven't been here for a week, something new will have already sprung up." For example, the new bicycle rental with eBike charging station on the Danube Island, the 21-kilometre-long belt that serves as a large recreational area. "Vienna is very green," Oth says, recounting his recent eBike ride, which took him from the city to the Vienna Woods. A 120-kilometre route where Oth listened to a podcast and his favourite music using the COBI.Bike app. "I need that sometimes to clear my head on the road."
Vienna has a network of 1654 kilometres of cycle paths. A handsome number. But do the paths also permit safe movement?
On the way back from DC Tower 1 through the inner-city traffic, it becomes clear that Vienna is doing many things right. Numerous streets have been opened to two-way
bicycle traffic, turning lanes have been separated from car traffic, and where cars have two lanes, protected routes lead through the city centre in lanes marked in green. The municipality invests 27 million euros annually in the expansion of cycle lanes, separated cycle lanes and charging stations for eBikes. Because more than every third bike sold in Austria is now an eBike.
While for Oliver Oth the eBike is the perfect vehicle to discover new places and take pictures, the physiotherapist Angelika Puntigam uses an eCargo bike as a practical all-rounder for her everyday life. In the morning, she uses it to take her children to kindergarten, and then she rides on to visit her clients.
For a while she used a bike without electric drive for this. But that became too tedious for her. "With the eCargo, I can get around the city in a relaxed and sustainable way – and the children enjoy it just as much as I do." A car would be out of the question for the sporty Viennese woman. "I wouldn't be any quicker and then there's the nuisance of looking for a parking space. I'm much more carefree on the road with the eCargo."
Even when she parks her eCargo bike, she feels safe because it has an electronic anti-theft device called 'Lock' that supplements the mechanical lock.
Angelika Puntigam has observed that more and more people in her circle of acquaintances are switching to an eBike. An experience that Laura Manschein from Bosch eBike Systems shares.
With 'Österreich radelt (Austria Cycles)', she supports a nationwide project providing companies with eBikes as test bikes. "Most of them are enthusiastic after just a short time and want to have it as a company bike," says the 26-year-old marketing manager.
The eBike is her first choice when she travels from the company headquarters in Vienna's 3rd district to cooperation partners in the city centre. "The route along the Danube is optimal, there is a lot of space and you can get through quickly." Sometimes she and her colleagues make an internal competition: Car vs. eBike – which is faster in the city? "The result," says Manschein, "is almost always the same: The car takes around 25 minutes, and with the eBike I get there 10 minutes earlier."
This experience is also shared by Oliver Oth and Angelika Puntigam, who move through their city daily by eBike. "It's faster, and you get some exercise," Oth says. "It's just that when you ride out of town, you sometimes run into a patchwork of bike lanes. There is still room for improvement here in Vienna as well."
Sponsor: With the project 'Austria cycles' Laura Manschein, Marketing Manager of Bosch eBike Systems, sparks the interest of companies in eBikes.